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Mini Facelift vs. Full Facelift: What’s The Difference?

Home » Blog » Mini Facelift vs. Full Facelift: What’s The Difference?

Mini Facelift vs. Full Facelift: What’s The Difference?


    What Is The Difference Between A Mini Facelift And Full Facelift?

    The traditional facelift sometimes known as the SMAS (superficial musculoaponeurotic system), is a facelift that separates the skin, tissues, and muscles within the face to tighten and remove any excess causing a saggy, aged appearance. 

    By addressing the underlying framework head-on, the facelift is the gold standard for facial rejuvenation as it targets what less invasive procedures cannot and promotes long-lasting restoration. It can eliminate loose, sagging skin and folds in the cheeks, lower face, jawline, and neck.

    So, what is a mini facelift? The mini facelift has the same goals as the full facelift, but it only addresses the lower third of the face and removes and adjusts less tissue. This facelift addresses early signs of aging in the lower face such as mild sagging along the jawline (jowls), superficial folds and wrinkles, and mild to moderate loss of youthful volume. 

    The key difference between a mini facelift and a full facelift is complexity. The traditional facelift takes 3-4 hours to perform in the operating room as it involves more complex incisions and typically addresses the face and neck as a composite. On the other hand, the mini facelift procedure is usually much less extensive, taking just 1-2 hours as it only involves a small portion of the face and can be done under local anesthesia.

    Mini Facelift vs. Full Facelift: Which Is Right For Me?

    A mini facelift is ideal for people looking to reduce the appearance of minimal signs of aging. Patients often undergo this less invasive facelift procedure for anti-aging measures that prevent aging changes from becoming more noticeable and to postpone the complex surgery involved with a full facelift.

    If your primary concerns are with the area around your mouth, jawline, and lower cheek area, you may be the perfect mini facelift candidate. If you are concerned about severe skin laxity in your upper and lower cheeks, jawline, and neck, you’ll probably find a full facelift more beneficial. 

    RealSelf says your candidacy for a mini or full facelift mainly depends on how pronounced the sagging in your skin and tissues is.

    The mini facelift can also be an excellent option for patients who previously had a facelift and want to touch up their results, as relapsing laxity tends to show up in the lower face first.

    In the past, patients would wait until their 50s and get a full facelift because there were no less invasive surgical procedures to address minor changes that nonsurgical treatments could not. Today, thanks to the innovation of the mini facelift, patients can postpone the need for a full lift a decade or more by getting a mini lift in their 30s or 40s for preventative measures.

    In general, the differences between a mini facelift and a full facelift are:

    • A mini facelift is a less expensive option, especially if local or twilight anesthesia is used over general anesthesia
    • A mini facelift does not address the entirety of the neck or anywhere from the midface and above like a full facelift
    • Local anesthesia can be used during a mini facelift while a full facelift always requires general anesthesia
    • A full facelift addresses severe cases of excess, droopy skin and fat, muscle banding, and facial folds while a mini facelift can only help with mild cases
    • A mini facelift takes about half the time in the OR
    • Mini facelift patients tend to recover twice as fast as full facelift patients

    Scars After Mini Facelift vs. Full Facelift

    Often referred to as the short-scar facelift, the mini facelift involves smaller, less noticeable incisions than the full facelift. These incisions are typically made discreetly within the hairline or in the natural creases around the ears. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says the typical placement for traditional facelift incisions is in the hairline at the temples, around the ear, and in the lower scalp.

    Recovery After Mini Facelift vs. Full Facelift

    On average, mini facelift patients recover from the surgery in half the time of a traditional facelift patient. 

    Typically, a mini facelift can be done safely and comfortably with local or twilight anesthesia, so it doesn’t involve the extensive downtime of recovering from the general anesthesia effects of a full facelift. Many patients love that the mini facelift doesn’t require general anesthesia.

    Here at The Kaplan Center, our mini facelift patients are typically out and about and back to work as early as one week after surgery. 

    After a mini facelift, initial side effects such as swelling, bruising, or tightness are mild compared to a SMAS facelift. Minor residual bruising can easily be covered with makeup, but most should be diminished within 2-3 weeks. Patients also tend to be in less pain throughout mini facelift recovery.

    Coined the “weekend facelift,” some patients get a mini facelift on a Friday and return to work and their usual activities by Monday. Strenuous physical activity such as lifting weights or running should be avoided until at least the 3-week mark, or until your surgeon says it’s safe to resume.

    Results After Mini Facelift vs. Full Facelift

    Best mini facelift results leave you with a tighter, more defined lower face and jawline and a refreshed, younger-looking appearance overall. After a full facelift, on the other hand, you can expect much more dramatic improvements, with a tighter, more youthful contour along the entire face, jawline, and neck.

    A short-scar facelift won’t address the upper portion of your face or the entirety of your neck, so if you need extensive face and neck work, you may achieve better results with a full facelift. Overall, improvements after a mini facelift are not as comprehensive and powerful as those a traditional facelift would deliver, so if you want to address drooping skin along the neck or anywhere above the midface, a more advanced facial rejuvenation surgery may be more beneficial.

    While you may look 5-10 years younger after a mini facelift, a full facelift can make you look 15 or more years younger. To learn more about the difference between a mini and a full facelift and which is right for you, request a consultation with NJ and NY board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Gordon Kaplan, who specializes in facial rejuvenation.

    The Kaplan Center

    The Kaplan Center is a medical practice ran by board-certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Gordon Kaplan in Edgewater, NJ. With over two decades of experience, The Kaplan Center specialises in plastic and reconstructive surgery for the face and body, along with a number of non-surgical treatments.